'Bring you home' - missing note to Pike 29 to be replaced in mine

A note left 170 metres inside the Pike River mine eight years ago is adding a touch of mystery to the re-entry operation.

The message was written by Mines Rescue, promising to bring home the 29 men killed in the explosion in the mine in November 2010.

The note was placed on one of the sealed-off walls in the mine drift, or access tunnel. But it's nowhere to be found.

And now moves are underway to replace it.

Dinghy Pattinson, the Pike River Recovery Agency chief operating officer, is leading the mine re-entry operation.

But there's something he feels must be done before they go another step further - the return of the note.

"Just as a symbolic gesture, I think it's good to take a copy of it back down and leave it beside the wall again," Mr Pattinson told 1 NEWS. 

By his side, will be Bryan Heslop, who worked with the oldest miner to be killed in the explosion, Keith Valley.

"He was a good old fella. He was one of the first guys I worked with in the mining industry. And it would be good to get some sort of results for his family especially," Mr Heslop said. 

Returning the note to its rightful place means a lot. 

"It's good to get it back up, and another step," Mr Heslop said.

Previously, crews were only able to get as far as the first seal, 30 metres inside the drift. But now they've managed to go even further and examine the area 170 metres inside. 

There's still some way to go before they reach what could be the crucial part of the mine - the area 1.8 kilometres in that housed its electrical workings. That area may reveal the source of the explosion. And beyond that, the rock fall at the end of the drift, 2.3 kilometres in, is also yet to be reached.

"The next stage is now to cut the 30-metre wall completely out. That will happen over the next couple of weeks," Mr Pattinson said. 

Before the wall at 170 metres can be removed, the rest of the tunnel must be re-ventilated with oxygen.

"That's what we're all here for is to actually get back in this tunnel and recover it, and try and find if we can find out actually what went wrong and give the families some closure," Mr Pattinson said.

But the copy of the missing note will remain in the mine.

"We have commenced our long journey to you. This has been the first step to bring you home to your loved ones," the note reads in part.

The recovery team hopes to return the note to its rightful place tomorrow.

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In 2011 rescuers left a note on the 170m seal, vowing they’d return to bring the 29 men who died home. Source: 1 NEWS